First Love

Movie Information

In Brief: The name Deanna Durbin may not be immediately familiar to today’s audiences, but she practically carried Universal Pictures single-handedly between 1936 and 1941 — and she remained one of their biggest stars until she retired from movies in 1949. She had an operatic voice and was that rarest of things: a completely appealing and non-cloying child star. First Love was a huge deal in 1939, presenting Durbin in her first adult role and getting her first screen kiss, from newcomer Robert Stack. It also turned out to be one of her best — possibly the very best — films.  The story is a modern variant on Cinderella told in terms of a screwball romantic comedy. And it’s amazingly adept at being a screwball comedy while being almost giddily romantic, striking just the right note in both capacities. Perhaps no child star ever made such a seamless transition to adult movies, but then Durbin was no ordinary child star. It helped immensely that Universal surrounded her with seasoned players who knew the ropes when it came to comedy, especially Eugene Pallette, who had played a similar role to the one he has here in My Man Godfrey (1936). Also on hand is the great Kathleen Howard — a former opera star best known to movie fans as W.C. Fields’ loud and domineering wife in It’s a Gift (1934) and The Man on the Flying Trapeze (1935) — as Durbin’s sharp-tongued but sympathetic music professor. If you’ve never seen a Deanna Durbin movie, there’s no better place to start.
Genre: Musical Comedy Romance
Director: Henry Koster
Starring: Deanna Durbin, Robert Stack, Eugene Pallette, Helen Parrish, Leatrice Joy, Kathleen Howard
Rated: NR

The Asheville Film Society will screen First Love Tuesday, March 29, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville, hosted by Xpress movie critic Ken Hanke.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.